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Flaw in Florida E-Voting Machines

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the repeat-of-2000-coming-up dept.

United States 438

An anonymous reader writes "Looks like there are more problems with the new e-voting machines. How will they ever be ready in time for the November elections?"

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More shenanigans (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412359)

More of the same, courtesy of Dubya's corrupt brother.

Re:More shenanigans (2, Informative)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412400)

Get over it, Al Gore lost. :-)

And thank god! I remember the signs people had after the election that said "Sore Loserman" with a tear instead of the star (in the same motif as the Gore/Lieberman signs). I was never able to get one of those signs.

Re:More shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412418)

I'm with grandparent poster, however they counted the missing votes, Bush lost.

What I want to know is why is it always Florida? The flight school in florida, the voter irregularities in florida, the same names and same places keep coming up again and again.

Re:More shenanigans (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412441)

How can you count a "Missing" vote?

Re:More shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412485)

'How can you count a "Missing" vote?'

With a manual recount. There were 10750 votes that the tabulator machines said didn't have any vote registered on them, so they manually took a look. That was just Miami Dade alone.
Those 10750 votes weren't looked at manually in the election because of the time deadline.

Whatever rules they chose to apply, the votes still showed Bush lost.

Re:More shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412531)

There were 10750 votes that the tabulator machines said didn't have any vote registered on them , so they manually took a look.

So you'd rather trust a human with an agenda looking at each ballot and then deciding based on perceived dimples in each ballot what the person voting intended to elect? Personally, I'd rather trust the machine. If the user is too stupid to understand how to register his vote correctly and, as a result, the tabulator doesn't count the vote, then as far as I'm concerned the machine is right.

Re:More shenanigans (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412594)

"So you'd rather trust a human with an agenda looking at each ballot and then "

'A' human? no, a group of closely monitored people, monitored by both parties with check recounts yes. If the rules say 3 corner chad is a vote but the machine can't register those votes then the machine is wrong.

Don't trust machines too much, the optical scanners in Florida were set to reject the ballot in predominantly Republican districts, (so the voter could try again). Meanwhile in Democrat districts the scanner was set to swallow the ballot and register a no vote. Which is why so many of the votes the machines couldn't read were democrat votes.

Re:More shenanigans (5, Insightful)

Radon Knight (684275) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412504)

Get over it, Al Gore lost. :-)

You know, what pissed me off more about the last elections more than anything else was the whole attention to shut down debate over the process. I mean, here we had a seriously close election whose results turned on exactly who won in Florida, and the entire push was to settle the matter as quickly as possible rather than as accurately as possible.

What was up with the entire "debate" over what kind of chad counted as a valid vote? If it was detached from 3 corners, it counted, but not if it was only detached from 2 corners, even if it was clearly the only candidate punched on the ticket?

More seriously, the decision was made by a Supreme Court containing individuals who - in any other court in the country would have had to abstain from voting due to a conflict of interest. (Some of the Justices were nominateed by G.W.B.'s father, for Pete's sake.) Why wasn't there more attention given to that failure of the process?

And, so, what I hate about the soundbite expression "Get over it, Al Gore lost" (although you did indicate that it was a joke - granted) was that it stopped debate and forced the result through.

Debating standards after voting is gaming the sys (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412661)

Trying to "debate" the standards for what does and does not constitute a valid vote after the votes are cast is nothing more than trying to game the system.

Face it - the laws in place in Florida before the election would not have allowed Gore to win. So he tried to lawyer his way to the White House - with the help of the notoriously leftist Florida Supreme Court, which utterly ignored statutory law, case law, and the Constitution of the United States in an attempt to help Gore.

Re:Debating standards after voting is gaming the s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412709)

Well Said! MOD PARENT UP

Re:More shenanigans (4, Insightful)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412706)

One recurring theme I've noticed in recent years is that the idea of a "conflict of interest" seems to be only a quaint saying that is rarely if ever applied to real world situations.

Examples include Katherine Harris, Florida's Secretary of State also serving [cbsnews.com] as George W. Bush's Florida Campaign Co-Chair, a bunch of oil industry executives deciding to annex on of the largest oil producing nations in the world, Cheney and Scalia going on hunting trips [cnn.com] while the Supreme Court decides cases involving Cheney, U.S. Senators owning voting machine manufacturers [blackboxvoting.com] and countless other incestuous links that even first year law students in the former Soviet Union would clearly recognize as causing the appearance of impropriety.

I mean c'mon, if you're gonna fuck us, at least *try* to be subtle about it! Is that too much to ask?

Re:More shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412738)

And the recount (which took many months, and was conducted by the Miami Herald, a less than friend of Repulicans, among others) found that Gore still lost Florida. Now get over it!

Re:More shenanigans (3, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412425)

Oh, come on. The only thing that EVER kept voting even remotely fair was bi(or multi)-partisan supervision. This is implicit and understood by both major parties. There have been "shenadigans" for years by both parties.
The idea has always been that the cheating would generally just even out.

Machines are never going to insure accurate vote counting if the people reading off the numbers are corrupt.

Democracy? (5, Insightful)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412362)

How will they ever be ready in time for the November elections?

By silencing anyone who talks about the flaws, of course! Do what I'm gonna do, bet money on bush being reelected. That way, if he is, at least it wasn't a total disaster.

Re:Democracy? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412456)

Bush is a shoe-in for reelection, and I'll bet more slashdotters will vote for him come November than would admit it today.

You see a lot of "and I approve this message" in sigs. That's not mockery, it's passive admiration.

Anyway, now go ahead and mod this down as "troll" or "flamebait" or whatever emotion this evokes in you.

Re:Democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412541)

You see a lot of "and I approve this message" in sigs. That's not mockery, it's passive admiration.

"and I approve this message" ? I haven't seen it - what are you referring to?

Re:Democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412568)

So speaks the lone voice of the "silent majority".

Re:Democracy? (1)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412744)

You see a lot of "and I approve this message" in sigs. That's not mockery, it's passive admiration.

"I'm a war criminal and I approved this message."

Now is that mockery or passive admiration?

Re:Democracy? (5, Interesting)

malus (6786) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412527)

I can testify. My dad is a senior reporter with a local NBC affiliate, and I've clued him in to quite a few stories about our current voting machines.

His assignment editor, and more troubling, the News Director [Hi, Forrest!] have routinely ignored the story. If the story isn't about The Spiderman burglar, or some Old Lady being ripped off by a roofing company, this 'news' channel doesn't want anything to do with it.

Re:Democracy? (3, Funny)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412587)

By silencing anyone who talks about the flaws, of course! Do what I'm gonna do, bet money on bush being reelected. That way, if he is, at least it wasn't a total disaster.

How can he be RE-elected when he wasn't elected the first time?

Re:Democracy? (-1, Troll)

superid (46543) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412666)

He won, get over it. [flcourts.org] Unless you happen to have some information that the US Supreme Court overlooked?

Re:Democracy? (3, Insightful)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412733)

He won, get over it. Unless you happen to have some information that the US Supreme Court overlooked?
Yeah, I have some, namely the fact that the supposed supporters of states rights won't let a state decide how to run it's election. The fact that the supreme court ruled on that at all is probably the grossest violation of the constitution I have ever seen. If you are going to support the electoral college, then at least allow the states the right to choose their electors.
I guess ignoring the constitution before he took office was just a sign of things to come.

Re:Democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412734)

It's not the republicans we have to worry about you putz. It's the democrats. They couldn't win by claiming "hanging chads" and trying to recount until enough votes for their guy magically appeared. Now they're trying to get crappy electronic voting machines used so they can get their guy elected and there can't be any chance at all of the republicans getting a recount.

Re:Democracy? (4, Insightful)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412677)

Didn't Diebold promise to deliver certain states to the Bush camp? Aren't they against verified e-voting? Huge conflict of interests abound, but no one will listen or do anything about it. The only place I have seriously seen this issue covered is on the internet, the only place that isn't owned by some big multinational that owns every news outlet, a l a Newscorp, Clear Channel, Viacom, etc. These past 4 years have seen more media consolidation than in the previous 100, IMHO. I bought a Palm Beach, Florida voting machine off of Ebay, when I got it, it looks exactly like our Virginia Beach voting machines. One badly designed ballot and suddenly we need to implement a whole electronic voting initiative? Sounds like fixing a symptom rather than the problem, non intuitive user interfaces. An electronic machine could just as easily create a confusing picture of the voting process.

E-Voting safe ever? (5, Interesting)

CptChipJew (301983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412364)

"These are minor technical hiccups that happen," said Hood spokeswoman Nicole DeLara. "No votes are lost, or could be lost"

Didn't they let some hackers lose on that Diebold machine and find 30k fake votes changed in a matter of minutes? Honestly, I don't think they're ready for this, if they ever will be. My grandfather can't even operate his DVD player.

In the gubernatorial election here in Cali (when Arnold got elected), they replaced the chad system with essentially the same design, but instead of punching holes, it left a really dark ink mark on the circle, which seems a lot safer to me. And this thing really flooded the ink, i touched it to my thumb just for fun and it left a pool in my fingertip. To me it really seems like a smart and simple alternative.

Though of course I expect some replies on the contrary :D

Offtopic Grammar Nazi (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412412)

Didn't they let some hackers lose on that Diebold machine

I've never seen someone use 'lose' instead of 'loose' before. Most people can't resist adding the second O. Nice to know someone else still remembers the word exists, even if they forgot what it means.

Re:E-Voting safe ever? (4, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412416)

I'm sure this has been covered repeatedly, but what's wrong with the UK system of 'put an X in the box by the candidate you want'. If counting time is a problem (IMO a hand count which anyone who feels like it is free to watch is a damn good thing, but anyway) then use those things they have for automatically marking exams, where you fill in the circle by the name you want and a machine scans them all - I know that's practically what this does but why put the mechanical element in there when it doesn't have to be. Seems like just another point for failure.

Re:E-Voting safe ever? (1)

CptChipJew (301983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412426)

What you're talking about is commonly called a Scantron [scantron.com] , as they are really the only big distributor of those forms that I've ever seen.

I don't think that would work though. Every single time I take a test on one at school, there's always someone in my class who totally screws up and marks each answer one column lower than he's supposed to, ruining his score.

On a national scale, allowing for the guarantee that the people of Florida will have a particularly high percentage of making these mistakes, I'd estimate around 5 million screwed up scantrons

Re:E-Voting safe ever? (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412427)

Except that even pencil and paper voting seems to be too complex for much of the UK electorate - 500,000 London mayoral election ballot papers were incorrectly filled in.

All you had to do was put two crosses for *different* candidates (first+second preference), and still 500,000 people can't cope with it.

Re:E-Voting safe ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412553)

All you had to do was put two crosses for *different* candidates (first+second preference), and still 500,000 people can't cope with it.

You are probably right, but are you certain that these weren't protests against the electoral system? Perhaps some people would prefer to allocate a percentage of their vote to each candidate Marking the same candidate twice would be a pretty safe way to protest the current system while still voting for your favoured candidate. Alternatively, perhaps some people wanted one candidate to be elected but definitely didn't want any of the others to be.

Re:E-Voting safe ever? (4, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412451)

Because in an exam, you know better than to mark 2 circles, or no circles (if running out of time, mark all C's!) at all. If you do mark the wrong one - erase with eraser, mark the one you wanted.

But this is voting.. arguably more important ..and people will mark more than 1 circle, will forget to mark altogether, or will find other ways to screw things up (break pencil tip, use up eraser end, who knows).
And neither human counters, much less automatic counters, know what the voter actually intended to do.

This as opposed to an electronic voting machine, where you :
- must make a vote (even if it's an abstain vote)
- can only vote once
- get a clear and concise "did you really mean to vote for X ?" option to change your vote before actually submitting it.

Which makes it very easy to
- count the vote

And that's all the machines really have to do!
Writing a voting system that does this is stupendously trivial as far as the code goes. Which leaves me only baffled as to why there appear to be so many bugs with these voting machines to begin with.

The only problem an electronic voting machine should have to face are human interface design issues, hardware issues, and the well-known papertrail issue.
The first is the hardest, the second is trivial (backup machine, backup drive), and the third has been discussed to death on Slashdot and some good ideas were written down.

Re:E-Voting safe ever? (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412788)

No, that is not all they have to do.

They also have to:
- offer multiple language support, and give the voter the choice of language
- offer assisted voting (text-to-speech or super-size font).
- Be physically and logically secure from local and remote tampering with the votes.
- Include auditable trails for all actions taken by the application.
- permit a voter to only vote once (which you mentioned), but not allow vote counters to determine how a given voter cast their ballot.

There are others, but that's the few I could think of off the top of my head. When you add all these requirements in, writing the code is most certainly *not* trivial.

Why is this so hard?! (3, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412368)

I want to know why these people have such trouble building a voting machine and the occupying software? I'm sure I speak for many many /. readers when I say that we could nock up the client and server in about an hour to forkful all the specifications and then spend the next hour bug fixing and then in the third hour get a cup of hot coffee! Morons

Re:Why is this so hard?! (5, Funny)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412445)

int main(void)
{
int candidate1 = 0;
int candidate2 = 0;
ing tmpCan = 0;
while(electionon == true)
{
cout << "Press the red button for candidate1" << endl;
cout << "Press the blue button for candidate2" << endl;
cin >> tmpCan;
if( if tmpCan == RED)
{
candidate1++;
}
else
{
candidate2++;
}
}
cout >> "Candidate1 got " >> candidate1 >> " votes" >> endl;
cout >> "Candidate2 got " >> candidate2 >> " votes" >> endl;
return 0;
}

Obviously not THAT simple, but come on.

Re:Why is this so hard?! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412459)

You have a nasty assumption that if it's not RED then it's always BLUE.

Re:Why is this so hard?! (4, Funny)

AstroDrabb (534369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412499)

Yes, this code way paid for by the Bush campaign.

Re:Why is this so hard?! (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412474)

goto BUSH hehe - Jeb

Re:Why is this so hard?! (2, Insightful)

mark_space2001 (570644) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412473)

I want to know why these people have such trouble building a voting machine and the occupying software? I'm sure I speak for many many /. readers when I say that we could nock up the client and server in about an hour to forkful all the specifications and then spend the next hour bug fixing and then in the third hour get a cup of hot coffee!

Yeah, right. I'm sure that Diebold told themselves the exact same thing, and look what happened.

The first thing to do would be to collect the requirements, which I think would take more than a couple of hours. It seems that this is the step Diebold missed, because a lot of their features seem tacked on like they didn't have time to implement them properly. That screams "last minute feature" to me.

Re:Why is this so hard?! (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412502)

The truth is that this is not a technical problem it is a political one. Almost any dumbass can program a voting system in like 2 hours I put the first hour in photoshop making fancy graphics the next hour is in what you stated. But the government doesn't work like that this is what happends.
  1. A software company tries to push a solution to the government. (this could possibly be a good solution)
  2. The government takes it to a bunch of meetings. In these meetings there are a lot of different people in a failure driven work environment so if they did something wrong they get punish there is little reward for doing te right thing. As well there are different type of people who don't like each other so they will disagree with them and make their lives difficult.
  3. After these meetings there are now specs for a much more bloated and compplex program that they will ever need or have.
  4. Now the company looking at the specs seeing how big it has became now writes the bid for the government to use. Realizing that it is pollitically charged they will make it seem like a huge amount of work and write the bid so only they can use it.
  5. The government sends the bid out to all the competitors. But because the bid was so spacific to the company. The orginonal company wins the bid.
  6. The Company produces a Beta version of the program.
  7. Goto 2 and repeat

Re:Why is this so hard?! (1)

JaxWeb (715417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412629)

Why don't I ever have mod points when I want to mod something up?

Re:Why is this so hard?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412641)

If you're thinking of using a client/server model of ANY kind for this, it just shows that you're not capable enough to code it.

Lets hope they aren't ready (1, Interesting)

beforewisdom (729725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412372)

Lets hope they aren't ready by the time of elections.

Instead lets hope Florida gets embarrassed into using something else.

Re:Lets hope they aren't ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412398)

errrr .. I'm still trying to figure out what's wrong with pen and paper... i mean..

NOTE:
We can embarass ourselves anytime we want.
And we wont let you down this time round either :)
Great laughs soon to follow .

A Jacksonville area anonymous coward :)

Re:Lets hope they aren't ready (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412429)

Works fine in Canada. However, you do need a lot of checks and balances and people from all parties to observe the process. It can still be rigged, I suppose, but only here and there rather than an entire unified electronic system.

I don't understand the facination with voting machines that Americans have--okay maybe if they gave points and you could get extra lives...

Re:Lets hope they aren't ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412466)

s/Canada/the rest of the world/

And it's quite hard to rig if people from all parties in each voting place recount all votes.

Really don't know what's wrong with USians, they're too lazy? they care so few about democratic system?

Re:Lets hope they aren't ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412723)

I don't understand the facination with voting machines that Americans have--

It's a combination of things:

1. The media is obsessed with being able to crown the winner before the polls close. They would prefer to announce the winner before the polls open, but that might look suspicious.

2. Machines = expensive, paper = cheap.
The politicians can get much bigger
payoffs from the voting machine manufacturers
than from the paper and pen vendors.

3. It's really hard to sneak thousands of
bogus paper ballots into a ballot box without
being noticed. Not so with machines.
Both sides (and let's face it - sorry,
Mr. Nader, but there are only two sides)
realize this, and both certainly intend to
use it to their advantage.

4. Voter confusion. If people are incapable of
punching a hole in a card correctly, do you think
they will be able to deal with a computer? No
matter how simple the interface, some won't be
able to handle it. This provides yet another reason to contest an election (if it doesn't go your way). Both sides want that.

Cynical? No, just realistic.
By the way, I haven't noticed any demand
on the part of the general public for "electronic
voting machines", all of that seems to come from
the special interests mentioned above.

Now I am convinced there are bad moderators (1, Flamebait)

beforewisdom (729725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412688)

Now I am convinced there are bad moderators.

My post above was a comment about hoping Florida would use different voting machines.

The topic I was posting was AN ARTICLE ABOUT VOTING MACHINE PROBLEMS IN FLORIDA.

I was moderated down as being "off topic".

In other words, someone abused their temporary moderator's privelage to censor an opinion that they didn't like.......not an opinion that was off topic to the thread.

I didn't know that Judge Scalia had time to read slashdot!

I'm impressed

the big question (-1, Flamebait)

golgotha007 (62687) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412376)

How will they ever be ready in time for the November elections?"

don't worry, i'm sure George Bush will find a way...

Re:the big question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412391)

Wouldn't that be Jebb Bush?

How will they? (5, Insightful)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412377)

How will they ever be ready in time for the November elections?"

That's asking the wrong question! it's "How will the voters handle this?". Well, most will ignore it. They'll vote, and votes will be miscounted. Then someone will become president (exactly who doesn't matter). Then there'll be a small investigation into the voting failure, perhaps a story or two on slashdot, and then the country will keep on using them.

People just aren't interested in a system that works any more. If they have something to complain about and go "oh did you hear the voting in florida was rigged!" it gives them 10 minutes of conversation around the watercooler, then they go ahead with their lives.

Scuse the cynicism, but I suspect it's the most likely outcome

Re:How will they? (3, Insightful)

doshell (757915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412488)

People just aren't interested in a system that works any more. If they have something to complain about and go "oh did you hear the voting in florida was rigged!" it gives them 10 minutes of conversation around the watercooler, then they go ahead with their lives.

True. I believe the problem is that people always seem to believe that the <irony>perfect democratic system</irony> they live in guarantees that someone above them (in the ladder of power) will fix any issue that may arise.

Blind trust in the system, that's what I call it. Until everyone understands that it is essential in a democracy to make oneself heard on things that seem to be wrong, the system loses its benefits, and those who actually have the power on their hands win all the time.

I know that many people do this; unfortunately, it seems that a large sector of the population doesn't, perhaps in hope that things will eventually be alright with no effort at all.

Not Exactly (2, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412543)

> They'll vote, and votes will be miscounted. Then someone will become president (exactly who doesn't matter).

I think that votes get miscounted when parties use malicious practice by disqualifying entire races from voting just because their last name is the same as someone with a criminal record. This is what Dubya did to get elected, plus he used a lot of other crazy tactics to sway the vote.

Voting machines could be a factor, but I think that the social engineering from parties needs to be quelled far before we worry about counts. Even recounts were suspended. So even an auditing system can't prevent social engineering by parties.

The law isn't doing anything to prevent elections from being stolen. Their hands are tied because of bribes, mostly.

You can have the perfect voting system but it doesn't count for anything if your country is lawless. A covenant without a sword is meaningless.

Re:Not Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412627)

Actually, Dubya was not elected. If the election had proceeded constitutionally, Gore would've won both the popular and the electoral vote. Unfortunately for America, the Supreme Court decided it could override the Constitution, and appointed Bush Resendent. Then the Democratic party abandoned Gore...

Definitely a problem (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412384)

The worst flaw in those voting machines is that they always offer such a poor selection. I hope they get that fixed in time.

Re:Definitely a problem (4, Funny)

WesG (589258) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412417)

Cowboy Neal should be on the ballot. I can see it now...

"I couldn't decide between Bush or Kerry so I decided to vote for the Independent "Insensitive Clod".

Re:Definitely a problem (3, Insightful)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412789)

Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a couple when you have a two party system. Those are the breaks.

Feel free to waste your vote on third party candidates if you're feeling idealistic. I'd strongly suggest reading the history books first.

This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, corrupt elections officials, incestuous links with corporate cronies. If you're using these numbers to run your country, you're fucked.

How ready do they need to be? (2, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412388)

Everyone seems to be concerned about whether the voting machines are perfect. I think there's another, more important question: are they better than what we have now?

Given the fiasco of the 2000 US presidential elections, I'd guess that it's possible for the machines to be both buggy and better than the alternatives.

I think we should focus on getting something that works well. If we wait for it to be perfect, it's going to be an awfull long wait.

Re:How ready do they need to be? (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412423)

There is a working alternative.

It's called pen and paper.

It works. It leaves a paper trail for later recounts.

It can be observed by everyone who is interested in the whole process, from printing the ballots to handing out the ballots, from getting the ballots back and counting them, from sealing the voting box to bringing it at the central voting office for recount, thus minimizing the possibility of rigging the election.

It keeps the single vote anonymous while at the same moment make every vote count. It keeps the voting and counting process at a speed a human eye can watch it and thus it's the most secure thing against voting fraud.

There is nothing wrong with voting per paper and pen. People not able to handle paper and pen have to get special support with all the other voting systems too. And you can easily design a voting machine that just pens the right point on the ballot for them. It's as complicated than a stancing machine with levers, a touchscreen or a device for people who can't see or read the ballot (noting wrong with Braille script on the voting ballot at all).

Re:How ready do they need to be? (2, Insightful)

Troed (102527) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412458)

This weekend people in the EU went voting for parliament. Pen and paper. It just works.

I haven't checked the numbers, but I'd guess that's more people than in an american presidential election.

I'm just back from my "put an X in the box in front of the person you want to vote for" myself ...

Re:How ready do they need to be? (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412585)

You could also use optical scan sheets. Basically the same, but the mark you put on the paper involves darkening an oval, and a computer knows where the oval goes. You can still easily hand count it, though -- if people bubble two alternatives, and they didn't bubble one more, throw the ballot out.

Re:How ready do they need to be? (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412424)

You think it's amusing, but you might not think it's so amusing if, for example, Kerry wins in a landslide and then the repubilcans cry foul and rake up all the muck over the machines' insecurity and send the election outcome back to the Supreme court.

Deja vu with Supreme Court? (1)

NoSuchGuy (308510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412401)

Is it a deja vu?

Does the Supreme Court decide again who is the next President of the US and not the voters?

Re:Deja vu with Supreme Court? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412411)

The voters did decide.... GWB by 300 votes, unless you think the Liberal Miami Hearald is biased towards GWB?

Re:Deja vu with Supreme Court? (1)

kunudo (773239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412536)

bs

Re:Deja vu with Supreme Court? (4, Informative)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412575)

" The voters did decide.... GWB by 300 votes, unless you think the Liberal Miami Hearald is biased towards GWB?"

I remember those recount stories back when they happened in mid-2001. On both CNN and listening the next day on NPR I heard and read that the recount showed Gore won Florida. Oh sure, when they only recounted those counties Gore was asking to be recounted, Bush still was ahead by 300 votes -- and that's what made all the headlines. But when they recounted ALL the counties in Florida, Gore was ahead. For some reason, that didn't make headlines but was buried about 2/3 the way down the CNN story. Yet it was the most significant fact of all: The voters of Florida picked Gore, thereby making him win both the popular vote and the electoral vote.

By then, of course, it was too late to do much, and would be a real mess to try to fix, so that's probably why the news got buried. But many of us noted those facts at the time and we haven't forgotten, no matter how many misinformed people still think Bush won by 300 votes.

Re:Deja vu with Supreme Court? (1, Interesting)

jazzer (732722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412461)

Is it a deja vu?

Does the Supreme Court decide again who is the next President of the US and not the voters?


Definately, when 8 of the seats on the Supreme Court are appointed by Republicans. ;) Trust me as a Canadian we take great interest, we're sick of the Bush administration as the rest of the world should be. But at the same time we are close to electing an idiot as stupid as Bush. Go figure.

Such arrogance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412711)

Those that you don't agree with are "idiots".

Just out of curiousity, what did you think of Ronald Reagan when he called out, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

I'd bet you thought Reagan was an "idiot", which is somewhat ironic because the millions of citizens of Poland, East Germany, Czech Rebublic, and others who lived under the domination of the Soviet Union - who lived a lot closer to the situation that you ever will - would probably consider you the "idiot", albeit one that is "useful" to some....

bad news.. (1)

mp3LM (785954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412408)

I think that turning everything in the world electronic...is really bad news...it could easily be rigged...example: if($vote = "Bush"){ $BushVote = $BushVote + 2; }elseif($Vote = "Lieberman"){ $LievermanVote++; } return $DeathToWorld;

Re:bad news.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412701)

I like the way you didn't specify George Bush. That way the same program can be used when Jeb Bush steals into office.

Minor technical hiccup, indeed (5, Insightful)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412414)

The machines, made by Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., fail to provide a consistent electronic "event log" of voting activity when asked to reproduce what happened during the election, state officials said.
Emphasis mine.

Considering that an electronic voting system is specifically designed to record and report voting activity, I'd say that a failure to do so consistently is more than a "minor technical hiccup" (as indicated by a spokeswoman for the secretary of state). An intermittent failure of a primary function is worse than an outright failure, as any programmer can tell you. Consider an intermittent failure of the brake system in your car....

In a strange way, I almost welcome all this attention focused on electronic voting systems. After all, the companies building them are pretty much doing what most other software companies do: Throw it all together as quickly as possible and let marketing and sales push it out the door. These are simply "average" software products coming under greater scrutiny. Maybe by pushing better quality here, we can force improved quality in other products (great leap of the imagination, I know).

But it's Florida dude... (1)

BLAG-blast (302533) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412768)

I think it's meant to work that way in Florida, atleast it will be in keeping with the oh so great paper system. The paper system is pretty flawed because you can only swing an election by 10 to 30 thousand votes before people notice, where as with electronic voting, it could be millions of votes but nobody would know.

Consider an intermittent failure of the brake system in your car....

Consider the tires of your SUV intermittently exploding and your SUV intermittently flipping over.

After all, the companies building them are pretty much doing what most other software companies do.

Not quite, other companies don't say things like "I hope our voting machines elect a republican". Also the CEOs of other companies don't suddenly get elected with a land slide vote after leaving their company to try a career in polotiks, but only in areas that use thier e-voting machines....

modify the page headers (4, Funny)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412432)

Whenever a story on Diebold is run, the editors should put in a META tag on the web page to play the O'Jays' "For The Love Of Money". It would really drive the point home. Plus it's a wicked bass line.

So let me get this straight (4, Insightful)

Spackler (223562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412434)

Really, I am confused. (according to the article, that I actually read for once) The only way to fix this is to hook up a laptop supplied by Jeb Bush to the machine, to have it verify what is happening? Yeah, much better than a hanging chad. Thanks.

Vote (1)

simgod (563459) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412439)

Don't blame me, I voted for the majority!

Re:Vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412450)

Bah, I voted for Kodos.

Voter Purge (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412443)

What scares me about all of this is that four years after the last election, it is still not common knowledge that Florida purged thousands of people from the electoral role illegally. This was admitted by Choicepoint in a special congressional hearing. Why Jeb Bush is still Governor in Florida I'll never know. (Notice that I'm saying nothing about the hanging chads business, that's a different kettle fish altogether).

What really amazes me though is that it's happening again [independent.co.uk] and no-one is doing a thing! Why in god's name doesnt the media in your country do it's job? I'm absolutely amazed that you're allowing this to happen again.

Re:Voter Purge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412602)

Oh sure, rely on the independent to provide fair and balanced information. That's just another liberal biased paper. Felons by law are not allowed to vote, they lost that right when they became one so purging them from the system is proper.

What about all the democrat lawmakers trying to deflect all the overseas absenty ballots by the soldiers in foreign countries? how about them apples? oh your paper doesn't mention that? oh what a surprise.

Get your facts straight when you talk about our country, from our laws not from liberal trash newspapers. You are being lied to.

Re:Voter Purge (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412805)

"Oh sure, rely on the independent to provide fair and balanced information."

Are you saying this didn't happen in 2000? I said that the database company in charge of the purge, Choicepoint, has admitted to Congress that they did this. It was an open session so you it'll be pretty easy for you to walk into you local library and request a copy of the transcript. It occured on April 17th 2001.

"What about all the democrat lawmakers trying to deflect all the overseas absenty ballots by the soldiers in foreign countries?"

That old chestnut. The only absentee ballots that the democrats tried to have disqualified were those that had been printing errors on (in this case birthdates instead of voter IDS). The law states clearly that such ballots are to be voided immediately. However, at least 2,100 of these ballots were "corrected". If they had "corrected" all the ballots that were in error however, there would have been a lot more -- see if you can guess which group of ballots were counted and which group were voided.

"Get your facts straight when you talk about our country, from our laws".

Okay. The law in Florida states that you can't deny the vote to a former felon unless he was convicted in the state of Florida. Those 40,000+ voters were either (a) convicted in other state (b) had a name or birthdate that was merely similar to a convicted felon (whether or not they were convicted in Florida) or (c) just put on there for the sake (although being black was probably a good enough reason)

The law, in fact the constituion, states that in the case of disputed presidential results, Congress must arbitrate the final decision. Why then did the SCOTUS decide? It's a flat out violation of constitional law.

If you want to keep your finger in your ears then that's up to you but all of this is completely verifiable information, you just have to look for it because your "liberal" media simply isn't doing its job properly. Please wake up.

Re:Voter Purge (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412606)

Whereas in Britain, candidates get caught with big bags full of postal vote forms in their cars... all democracies are corrupt, just in different ways.

Re:Voter Purge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412607)

Simple: everyone's on the Republican payroll. They're doing everything they can to insure a Rebpublican victory in November, and if they can find some way to skew the results in a state that is very close in votes to their guy as a result of some election "malfunction", so much the better.

Re:Voter Purge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412625)

boy that's just stupid. you really believe that? i bet you believe in those black helicopters too.

Re:Voter Purge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412616)

...maybe for the same reason we just saw a week of national necrophilia...for a president that, in reality, was an "acting criminal" more or less.

the repugs control a majority in pretty much every class of politics. the USA does not have a democracy; it has a system where 50% + 1 controls the other 49%--ridicules them as unamerican, outmoded, unelectable, etc. this would go the other way if the democracks were in power, btw.

until some type of proportional representation is put in place, don't expect anything to change...and with the USA population aging as fast as it is, that will probably never happen.

Re:Voter Purge (2, Informative)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412657)

Actually, what's really surprising is that the media is doing its job! CNN's sued for access to the rolls of purged voters, which Jeb claimed that no one had the right to look at. A number of other parties have also filed suit for the right to double-check the rolls of felons and ensure that there are no eligible voters on them.

Even worse is that they outsourced the compilation of the list to a private company...

Falls asleep.. (5, Funny)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412453)

"These are minor technical hiccups that happen," said Hood spokeswoman Nicole DeLara. "No votes are lost, or could be lost."

They said it couldnt happen..

"She's the fastest voting machine in the fleet"

But as the electronic voting system made her maiden election..

[Insert dramatic music]

"ACCESS DATABASE CORRUPTION - RIGHT A HEAD"

Disaster struck..

"Full reverse transactions on the data base! Switch to MySQL!"

"Its too late, we cant migrate in time!"

"But these machines.. they cant fail, they are un-breakable!"

[Music gets more dramatic]

"Captin! we have lost 12 states, this system had only enough redundancy for 14."

"What are you saying sir!?"

"Captin, im saying that if we loose 3 more megabytes of data.. then this election will be null"


[Music gets even more dramatic crescendo fff]

"Jack! Jack! there are only enough paper ballots for half the population of Texas!"

"You take one, your vote is more important! I was only going to throw it away on a 3rd candidate anyway"


Coming soon, from the directors of Florida 2000, Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Diebold, Microsoft.

[Music reaches climax]

ELECTION: 2004
They said it couldnt happen.

In related news... (5, Informative)

mko (117690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412457)

Voting machines are "cheap and untrustworthy" compared to slot machines.

Gambling on Voting (NY Times Op-Ed today) [nytimes.com]

I don't understand this run on machines anyway, don't paper ballots scale perfectly? Counting votes can be arbitrarily parallelized after all.

I just voted. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412464)

For the EU parliament. I went in, took a paper ballot, showed my voting card, recieved a small envelope, went behind the screen, used the pen there to check the box across my candidate on the ballot, put the ballot in the envelope, handed voting card and ballot in. Done.

How the fuck could e-voting make this any faster/simpler? After all, counting the votes is a highly parallelizable task, so the fact that you have 10x or even 100x as many voters shouldn't matter in the least.

All in all it took me ten minutes. No more, no less.

Voting cards are not allowed in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412745)

For the EU parliament. I went in, took a paper ballot, showed my voting card....

FYI, no one is allowed to try to implement positive identification of voters here in the US. It's termed "racist" and "discrminatory".

Guess which political party regularly uses those terms?

And guess which political party benefits [seventy.org] from precincts where 98% of all registered "voters" vote, with 99% of those votes all going to that one party?

Re:Voting cards are not allowed in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412798)

FYI, no one is allowed to try to implement positive identification of voters here in the US.

Bullshit, here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area proof of indentification is required to vote. Republicans dominate this area.

PBC Board of Elections (3, Interesting)

tdc_vga (787793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412479)

I thought some /.ers might find this amusing. I typically vote using the absentee ballot system. I won't forget to vote, get stuck at work late, and this year don't have to deal with the whole e-voting mess. Unfortunately, I live in Palm Beach County and their website has been "temporarily unavailable" for over a week. I don't know about the rest of you, but if I ran a website and it was down for a week+ I think they'd have my head.

Obviously, you can still call up and order an absentee ballot, but most people order theirs over the web now. Not to be a conspiracy theorist or anything, but in Palm Beach County most of the "get out the vote" campaigns in urban/impoverished/highly democrat areas encourage voters to apply for absentee ballots, hmm. PBC Elections Link [pbcelections.org] That sure gives me more faith in the system, TdC

Paper voting (1)

jbb999 (758019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412492)

What's so bad about putting an X next your candidate with a pencil and putting the paper in a box like we do in the UK? I'm all in favour of computers and everything but computerising this just seems unnecesaily complicated and expensive.

Re:Paper voting (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412756)

Do you have any idea how long it takes to fake 20,000 paper ballots by crossing each one? and you have to make the cross look abit different each time! With computers.. "update votes set candidate='bob' where candidate='jim';"

Source Code (5, Insightful)

lff (119360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412503)

I guess it is too much to hope that the source code is publicly available, but really shouldn't it be?
lff

How hard does it GET? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412515)

How hard does it GET? Why can't they just CnP this code, install linux on the machines and just ... vote??

#define _GNU_SOURCE
#include

int main(void) {
char* c = NULL;
FILE* votes;
size_t len = 0;
size_t readb = 0;

if((votes = fopen("votes_nov_2004", "a")) == NULL) {
perror("votes_nov_2004");
exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
}

puts("Enter your vote>");
while((readb=getline(&c, &len, stdin))>0) {
fputs(c, votes);
putc('\n', votes);
puts("Enter your vote>");
}

fclose(votes);
exit(EXIT_SUCCESS);
}

Re:How hard does it GET? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9412547)

Hmmm, intriguing. Command line voting... I like it!

Re:How hard does it GET? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412725)

To be more unix-alike you could do it like this =P

#!/bin/bash
# vote.sh (C) 2004 us govt.

ELECTION = 2004_election

read vote
echo vote >> $ELECTION

# end of vote.sh

create 2004_election, chown it to root, and set permissions to 660, and set setgid the vote.sh program =P

Why all the voting problems (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412555)

You'd think that a country who prides itself on democracy and tries to spread it throughout the world would be able to figure out something as simple as voting. We've never had problems like this in Canada. This whole punch card/e-voting/dress up like you who want to vote for thing really just makes things more difficult. Much easier just putting an X in the box next to the candidate. Hard to screw up that one.

The Banana Republic of Florida will "do" -- what? (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412617)

Touchscreen voting machines in 11 counties have a software flaw that could make manual recounts impossible in November's presidential election, state officials said.

Vinnie says: Day sounds about perfect ta me.

Yoos gots problems wid dat, maybe we come over ta ur place and talk about it?

Questions (1)

X-Nc (34250) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412642)

> How will they ever be ready in time for the November elections?

Answer: They won't. Until the world realizes that they need a truily open standard for electronic voting no "solution" will ever be ready to impliment.

Here's an idea for a voting machine (4, Interesting)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412655)

Use keypunch encoders.

Voter goes into keypunch booth, looks at wall with each candidate assigned a number, voter types in numbers, extracts card, and (new part), sticks card into reader which displays their choices on a screen. (Doesn't like what she sees, goes back in line to punch out another card.) Voter hands in card.

You have anonymity, a paper trail, no concerns about hanging chads or mispunches, minimal maintenance, and almost no high tech specialist requirements. I wouldn't be shocked if most of this type of equipment is still manufactured and maintained.

E-vote is no good (5, Insightful)

elpapacito (119485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9412702)

Even if many like machines, because they relieve us of the burden of doing manual work, the relatively few ones
that -actually know- how machines really work would rather work manually then let a machine decide the outcome
of an election. I certainly do and I'm no luddite, on the contrary I call myself a computer geek ;)

The facts are simple and important: computers can count very quickly, but they can be instructed to MIS-count exactly
as fast
. Computers can even be instructed to turn your YES into a NO and your NO into a YES. It requires only a click
to turn 10 million votes from one candidate to another, regardless of what some self-declared "security expert" say about
the security of well maintained and programmed computers.

Hand counting of paper votes cannot as easily be corrupted. While with just one click you can tell computers to do anything
but you can't corrupt a thousand people without having some of them understand that corruption in voting process is against
democracry ; some will refuse to be corrupted, others will go to media and denounce the corruption..maybe nothing happens
and the election is rigged...but some people still know and can still talk, and paper votes remain to be counted a dozen
times if necessary (with and expecially without the help of a counting machine)

It is also important to check that each and every voter is given his/her voting rights. One can't just trust computers
to tell if a voter still have his/her rights or have lost it. With a simple click one could trick a computer into reporting
that 10000 ex-inmates are still in prison, or that 100000 people are alive and should have voted, while in reality they're
DEAD so they shouldn't be counted as voters to begin with.

Here is an example with CASH MONEY. Do you like your dollar bills ? Do you like to hold your money in your hands, knowing that your
money isn't going anywhere unless YOU decide to do something with it ? Indeed it's only a piece of paper, but a very
important one. Imagine a world in which paper or metal money doesn't exist anymore ..would you trust banks/govts/corporations
to have all your money in their hands, stored as numbers in their computers ? What if a black-hat hacker attacks their computers ?
What if some corrupted individual working at a bank steals money from their computers, or simply -delete- your money from your
account because he doesn't like you ? Why do you think that banks are still using PAPER to keep their records ?

Fire can destroy paper money, you could lose it, anything could happen...so why do we keep money on paper with holograms
and other forms of expensive protection ? Because one could falsify money, one could destroy it accidentally..but you can't
destroy all the paper money with one click, you can't falsify all the money with one click, you can't take money away from
population hands with one click without kick-starting a bloody revolution.

Now back to vote : your vote is not money, but for some people it is more much more important then money. Why ? Because your
vote will direct trillions of dollars and a lot of power to some hands, because your vote will elect a politician, giving
him/her power to WAGE WAR in your name, to decide were tax money is going to be spent, to decide if a law needs to be changed
for better or worse.

Still want your vote and your voting rights to be counted or decided by a stupid computer ? I don't want humans to be taken
away from the voting process in the name of "progress" or in the name of "savings". It's stupid, it's dangerous.
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